Dark Spell Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Written by Natalya Dubovaya, Ivan Kapitonov, Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
2021, 92 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 6th, 2021
Yana Yenzhayeva as Zhenya (aka Evgenia)
Konstantin Beloshapka as Kira (aka Kirill)
Ilya Yermolov as Viktor
Varvara Borodina as Sonya (aka Sophia)
Niikita Yuranov as Oleg
Sabina Akhmedova as Aza the Gypsy
Zhenya is caught in a one-sided relationship, deeply in love with her partner Kira and hoping to make a decent home for their infant daughter. Kira has no such dreams and refuses to be tied down, openly cheating on her at every opportunity. Humiliated, she seeks the help of a mystic to cast a love spell to win his heart. She is instructed to perform the ritual in a church during a friend’s wedding and it works! Kira is suddenly more attentive and affectionate, but is increasingly obsessed with her to the point where he doesn’t want to share her with anyone, including the baby. Something is wrong and his behavior grows more erratic. When tragedy strikes, Zhenya believes the spell is broken, but nothing could be further from the truth. Death is no longer the end of a bond when dealing with black magic – instead, it introduces a whole new nightmare.
Dark Spell (aka Love Spell Black Wedding) is the latest film from director Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy (Mermaid: Lake of the Dead) and it is one of his stronger efforts. Working from a script he co-wrote with longtime collaborators Natalya Dubovaya and Ivan Kapitonov, the story takes an age-old premise rich with possibilities and runs with it. Many of the ideas are familiar and parts are predictable, but the end result is mostly satisfying. Characters are still required to do dumb things in order to advance the story in a particular direction and there are a few hanging threads at the end, but on the whole it works.
Part of this film’s appeal is its simplicity. In an endless sea of zombies and superheroes it is nice to get a twisted love story poisoned by the dark arts. All Zhenya wants is to be loved and appreciated, but in her desperation, she plays with fire and gets more than she bargained for. The repercussions of her actions are dire and put everyone around her in jeopardy. Despite being directly responsible for all the trouble, Zhenya remains likable thanks entirely to a strong performance by actress Yana Yenzhayeva. She manages to keep audiences firmly on her side as she tries to correct a horrible mistake. Konstantin Beloshapka leaves a mark as the prickly Kira, first as a cheating asshole and later as an unpredictable lovesick monster.
Dark Spell has a great look and moves at a decent pace and best of all keeps the CGI work to a minimum. There are some suspenseful moments and a general sense of foreboding that will keep viewers engaged. The director shows great restraint when it comes to onscreen violence or bloodshed, making those moments all the more powerful when they do pop up. I can easily recommend this movie for late-night streaming, but not necessarily for a blind-buy purchase.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is razor-sharp and rich with detail. Colors are well-saturated and flesh tones appear natural throughout.
There are four audio options, including a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in either English or Russian as well as a pair of DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mixes for both languages. There is some nice activity in the surround channels and music cues are robust without being intrusive. The English dubbing is pretty atrocious, so you may want to stick with the original language. That being said, note that the English subtitles use the full version of character names rather than the diminutives given in the cast of characters list; “Zhenya” is called Evgenia, “Kira” is Kirill and “Sonya” is Sophia.
The theatrical trailer is included but you should watch it only after seeing the movie.
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